Text by Ralph Jean-Louis / Photo by Rosiane Jean-Louis
Madagascar were crowned the inaugural COSAFA cup champions with an emphatic 9-4 victory on Saturday at the Roche Caiman Beach Soccer playing field in Seychelles.
The Malagasies were the overwhelming favourites to lift this first ever COSAFA tournament hosted in the Seychelles and they did not disappoint as they opened the scoring through their captain Tianasoa Rabeasimbola to make it 1-0.
However Malawi pegged them back with a nice shot by Festus Chikwega for a 1-1 score.
The players of Frenchman Claude Barrabe raised the tempo and stretched their lead with two quick goals courtesy of Flavien Razafimahatratra through a penalty and Tokiniaina Randriamampandry for a 3-1 lead.
Julio Ratsimarinala wrapped up the scoring in this first period for a yawning 4-1 advantage at the break
The Malagasies piled on the pressure in the second period as Anderson Rakotosoa scored from the penalty spot for a 5-1 lead.
Flavien struck twice to complete his hat-trick with his third a solo run past a couple of crude challenges before he slotted the ball past goalkeeper Bothwell Saka to make it 7-1.
Vanacio Malunga pulled one back to cut the deficit to 2-7 and his colleague James Chikoka got on the scoresheet for a 7-3 score at the end of the second period.
Tokiniaina also scored a brace in the third period to make it 8-3 and by the time the D.J. played the song “We will Rock You”, the Malawians boat were long rocking under the skills of a superior Malagasy side and Tokiniaina bagged his hat trick with a thumping free kick from the centre line to stretch his team’s lead to 9-3.
Chikwega grabbed his brace to reduce the arrears to 9-4 as the Malagasies were in celebratory mood as their fans in the stands danced up to the final whistle where they rejoiced with their players for a job well done.
The medals were presented to the top three teams in this competition by the Seychelles Football Federation President Mr Elvis Chetty, Mr Timothy Shongwe the COSAFA Competition’s Chairman and the COSAFA President Mr Suketu Patel who presented the trophy to the Malagasy captain Rabeasimbola.
The Malagasy coach Barrabe explained how his tactical strategy helped them to win this title.
“We planned to stop their danger man Chikwezga and this made things easy for us. Overall I would say we deserved to win this title based on our performance. This win will be a big boost for the CAF-Qualifiers which will however be of a higher level but I would also like to commend their Malagasy government for investing a lot in the preparation of this team,” coach Barrabe explained.
As for the Malawi coach Steven Gondwe, he congratulated their opponent who he felt were the better team.
“The game went ok though we were not pleased with a few officiating decision. However our opponent played well and we would like to congratulate them and we are satisfied that at least we made it to the finals,” coach Gondwe reflected.
The United Arab Emirates club Al-Ahli finished third to claim the bronze medal with a comfortable 7-3 triumph over Mauritius.
Host Seychelles defeated South Africa 1-0 to finish in fifth position on the classification table as the curtains came down on three days of exciting Beach Soccer fiesta on the shores of Seychelles in beautiful sunshine.